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Santorum wins Kansas caucuses

(Xinhua)

11:26, March 11, 2012

WASHINGTON, March 10 (Xinhua) -- Rick Santorum has won Kansas caucuses of the U.S. Republican Party on Saturday, giving him momentum ahead of next week's "Southern Super Tuesday" contests in Mississippi and Alabama.

After more than 85 percent of votes were counted in Kansas caucuses, Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, held a lead with 53 percent of support, with Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor a distant runner-up with 17 percent. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, was at 16 percent, and Ron Paul, a Texas Congressman, had 13 percent.

Santorum was widely expected to win the Kansas caucuses, where social conservatives have a strong showing. Santorum now has won seven states in the GOP primaries. He will like walk away with at least 20 of Kansas' 40 delegates.

Kansas wasn't the only contest in the weekend. Romney has won Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. Virgin Islands is also holding caucuses Saturday. Romney is expected to do well in that contest as well.

Wyoming is also holding county conventions on Saturday. There were 15 county conventions in that state to pick 6 delegates. Another six were chosen earlier, with Romney winning 4, Paul one and one uncommitted. Romney has won the state's non-binding straw poll in February, when that state's Republicans held county-level caucuses.

Saturday's voting came before next week's "Southern Super Tuesday" contests in Mississippi and Alabama. Gingrich, who is from Georgia, has skipped Kansas to focus on the South, and whether Santorum can beat Gingrich in those states could be significant for the race ahead. Romney also skipped Kansas, and has been campaigning in the South. He is hoping to have a strong finish there, further burnish his frontrunner status.

But according to an American Research Group survey, Gingrich is edging out his rivals in Mississippi, leading the pack with 37 percent support, while Romney trails with 30 percent. Santorum has 17 percent. Polls have predicted a tight race in Alabama.

According to CNN's count, Romney now has 447 delegates, followed by Santorum's 195. Gingrich has 118, while Paul has 67.

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